I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I am really freaking sorry! I know 5 months have passed since I updated last and I suck for it…. But when your life changes dramatically you have to put some stuff on hold… Graduating college, moving out of your parent's house and looking for a job to pay the bills kinda gets in the way of creativity… so I'm really sorry.

Anyway pay no attention to my pity party and enjoy this chapter I'm gonna try to crank out a few more in the coming weeks.

Chapter 8

After having some jasmine tea and being in Iroh's company Katara felt somewhat better. Zuko even tried to help by showing her some firebending tricks, which she found amazing. The day was long and when she went to bed worried thoughts about her letter came pouring back into her head. In the letter she accounted the reason she had been summoned by the Fire Lord, his marriage proposal to her. She wrote briefly that she felt it was an economically sound match that would benefit the two countries greatly and that she would not be opposed to the match. She wrote how she greatly admired Fire Lord Zuko and described his many accomplishments further in the letter, mainly how much the Fire Nation had changed since the time of Lord Ozai. Lastly she admitted her reason for staying in the Fire Nation longer, she wanted to get to know Lord Zuko as a potential partner. She didn't go into the details of their courtship period or of her feelings toward Zuko. She wasn't sure if she loved him but she did like him a lot. Katara sighed and felt the weight of her mother's necklace shift slightly. She grasped it and was happy to feel how warm it was. " Help me mom. Tell me what to do." She closed her eyes and was embraced by the arms of sleep.

" My lady."

" Hmm.." she grumbled while rolling over. She felt so tired from all the crying yesterday. " Five more minutes."

" I'm sorry my lady but Lord Zuko insists that you get up. I have already packed everything for the journey and laid out your attire for today. I'm sure you can sleep in the carriage on the way." She watched Katara shift restlessly.

" Fine." She stretched and tossed the covers off. " How long has Lord Zuko been waiting?" She asked sheepishly, ashamed that she had slept in.

" Not too long." Mira handed traveling clothes to her and Katara put them on quickly. Mira brushed her hair and braided it into the familiar style. " You're all ready. All of our things have been taken downstairs."

" So all that's left is me." They made their way out of the suite and down the hall.

Mira pat her shoulder and smiled at her. " It seems that way."

Katara winced inwardly she could just hear the voice of Zuko before the war ended. He would shout something at her such as " Filthy waterbender! Why did you take so long!" or he would be rude and say " Just like a lazy pig sleeping your life away." As they entered the main hall Katara saw Zuko standing at the large doors. She noticed him smile as she descended the stairs.

" Good morning." He held out his arm and she took it. " I hope you got enough rest. I wanted to let you sleep longer but we really had to get moving."

" It's alright. I should apologize for my tardiness." She looked down as they stepped outside the bright morning sun hurt her eyes.

" Nonsense. A queen is never late, everyone else is just early." Iroh approached them with his wide smile. " Good morning."

Katara giggled and nodded to Iroh." Good morning."

Iroh turned and started walking toward his personal carriage. " Now you two behave on this trip, I don't want another war starting cause my nephew can't keep his hands to himself."

Zuko fumed slightly and turned to Katara. " Please ignore my Uncle. He gets wild ideas on occasion." She smiled and tried to keep from laughing as he led her to the royal carriage. She climbed her way into it and sat down on the plush seat. She watched him sit opposite of her, looking into his eyes she could tell that she wouldn't be seeing the old Zuko for a long time.

" So its two days until we reach the eastern fire lands?" She leaned back and settled herself into the long plush seat behind the driver, the back window facing her.

He nodded. " We will be staying at Noburu hot springs tonight, the inn there is fabulous and the service top notch. Tomorrow I will show you one of the water systems that provide water for the surrounding area and then we will make our way to the eastern lands setting up camp that evening. I have arranged a very comfortable tent for you and your handmaiden, I hope you will like it."

She rested her head on her hand and smiled at him" Thank you, I quite enjoy sleeping under the stars." Her gaze shifted to the window, she watched the fire castle disappear behind large trees. " It reminds me of times before I was queen." Her eyelids slowly closed and soon she had drifted off to sleep.

She could feel the carriage come to a stop and she stirred slightly not really wanting to get up. She had a slight headache from sleeping too long but was otherwise comfortable with her head resting on some ones lap. Probably fell asleep on Sokka again, she thought to herself. She opened her eyes slowly and saw a pair of gold orbs staring into hers. " Did you sleep well?" She jumped off the seat and held her rapidly beating heart, Zuko stared at her for a moment and then started laughing. Katara turned red on the spot remembering where she was and that Zuko was not her enemy anymore. All the years of running from him still haunted her it seemed.

Zuko was still laughing and holding his sides as if in pain. Katara got a little mad at first thinking of the way Sokka would laugh at her but Zuko's laugh was very different. It was the sweetest sound Katara had ever heard, gentle yet firm at the same time and most importantly not obnoxious. She smiled and started laughing at Zuko's laughing, she hadn't felt so happy in the longest time. " I'm sorry." Zuko finally choked out, it took all he had to control his laughter. " I didn't mean to scare you."

" I'm okay. Nothing hurt." She did a little turn around for him. " See."

" Good." He got up and took her hand. " We have arrived in Noburu." He opened the door and escorted her down the little steps of the carriage. Katara smiled at the little town. She could see numerous vendors along the street selling everything from food to fine silks. Zuko pointed to the top of the hill where a large building stood. " That is where we'll be staying tonight."

" Wonderful." Katara watched the sun drift further behind the hill accenting the ornate building. It was a truly inspiring sight.

Zuko escorted Katara up the hill with their entourage surrounding them. The townspeople were lighting tall torches along the road trying to beat the setting sun. " The inn is home to a fabulous hot spring, we will have a nice relaxing night."

They approached the main entrance and were greeted by a short old woman. " Lord Zuko!" She dashed up with surprising quickness for her age and bowed deeply to the Fire Lord. " Welcome! It's so very nice to see you again!"

" It's a pleasure as always Mikurahana." He gave her a little bow.

" And who is this lovely young lady?"

" Let me introduce you. This is Queen Katara of the Water Nation. She is visiting our lands to learn about our society."

" How wonderful!" She bowed deeply to Katara. " I hope you will enjoy your stay with us."

Katara gave the woman a small bow. " I'm positive I will."

" Well lets get you all inside, you must be very tired after your trip." Katara followed after her with Zuko by her side. They entered the building and were lead through a series of halls. Through the windows she could see steam rising. " This is our royal bath." Mikurahana opened a sliding door revealing a large natural hot spring surrounded by small trees and flowers. Katara smiled, she would spend a lot of time soaking tonight.

Well there you go but I think its a little short. Take a guess as to what movie I stole Iroh's line from,lol. Again I'm really super sorry about not updating. And I'm probably a little rusty to so forgive me if this chapter sucks. It will get better as I write more. R&R pls!